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The first Danish study into how one of the worlds largest wind farms affects marine life is now completed. It shows that the wind turbines and the fish live quite happily together. Indeed some species of fish have actually increased in number
Of course developers of onshore wind farms spend a great deal of time and effort checking the local environment when they plan a new wind farm but the publc oftem forget that under the sea the local environment is just as important
The report is from the Danish wind-park Horns Rev 1, one of the world's largest offshore wind farms. It has 80 large turbines and is located just off Denmark's westernmost point. It was installed about nine years ago and the fish study has been undertaken over 7 years. Like other offshore wind farms, it is located in relatively shallow water, no more than 20 meters deep, and thus in an area which is typically teeming with fish
Before the park was built, researchers from DTU Aqua, National Institute of Aquatic Resources in Denmark, conducted a survey of fish life in the area. Biologists then compared the data gathered at that time with the situation in the area seven years after the wind turbine blades began to turn.
The study actually found there was a benefit to fish. The offshore turbines at Horns Rev are sunk deep into the seabed and surrounded by a rim of large piles of stones, which prevents the sea currents eroding deep trenches in the sand around the turbines. The study suggests that these stone structures also act as artificial reefs, providing enhanced conditions for fish, with an abundant supply of food and shelter from the current, and attracts fish which like a rocky sea bottom. As such, the turbines have created habitats for a number of new species in the area. "Species such as the goldsinny-wrasse, eelpout and lumpfish which like reef environments have established themselves on the new reefs in the area -- the closer we came to each turbine foundation, the more species we found," says Claus Stenberg a biologist from DTU Aqua
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